#1 Student Voice

We are so proud of our students for their public participation over the past two days. They eloquently articulated what it means to participate in authentic, community-driven research projects, and they co-designed summer research 2023 with their school's leadership teams. While we know we must continue to cast a wide net to capture more student voices, we celebrate with you today the power of student voice (and alumna voice) when given a seat at the table of educational design.

What do students say? We'll be sharing the session we taped so you will soon be able to watch and hear for yourself. For now, please allow us to summarize some of their assertions.

They value connecting with their peers in purposeful ways. They value being on a team that is meaningfully educational and socially rewarding. They crave opportunities to direct their own learning, instead of always being told what to do- and what is due. They want to tackle complex, local and global issues in their community. They tell us they need more opportunity to engage and network with community leaders and subject-experts, and that it helps them sort out their passions and directions in life. And very much like the working adult world, they tell us they profit as individual learners when truly given the opportunity to engage in sustained team collaboration; they figure out how to harness individual talents to produce team products for public consumption.

State Representative (right) Joan Meschino and Katie Baxter (middle), Legislative Aide to Joan's colleague, Representative Partrick Kearney, uderscore the power of student voice by emphasizing how student-led research is civic engagement that can inform and influence public policy. CSCR's Susan Bryant, facilitates.

#2 Schools are "moving the MWEE to the summer months"

We are equally proud to give a well-deserved shout-out to our NOAA grant school partners with whom we are working to "move the MWEE to the summer months." The MWEE, as you know, is NOAA's vernacular for "meaningful watershed education experiences." And we are proud to share with you photos illustrating our school teams, their students and community partners, and our grant leaders doing the hard work to reimagine how, where, when, and why students will be engaged-- and credentialed-- for their community-based research.

This is truly innovative design thinking with ed reform implications deeply embedded in the national conversation about "schools-of-the-future" and the "future-of-schooling." Provocative (in the best sense of the word) and inspiring, for sure!

Student and Teacher presentations during the day highlighted each school's action plan for building awareness in their district, for growing "MWEE" opportunities for students, and for building bridges that connect and credential community-based research with academic year offerings. For example, Cohasset students, teachers, and school leaders explained their plan to build connections between summer research, a marine biology elective, and their iteration of a NOAA Conditions Report, a capstone to be presented at the community's annual State of the Harbor event. Likewise, Hingham High School's science dept chair, Michelle Romano, shared Hingham's vision captured with an image of Hingham's program of studies describing how independent research requirements and credits are bridged with summer research pursued at CSCR. Wow! Great stuff!

Above: Ben Pendarvis, a grant team leader from Open Way Learning, listens joyfully as Archbishop Williams' principal Mike Voloninno shares his school's plan to integrate summer research with the Neponset River Watershed Association into "Bishops Block" and the academic year.

#3 A Learning Pathway to SBNMS

Our grant partner and longtime educational collaborator, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary's Ben Haskell (SBNMS), knows that educating students about their Sanctuary is critical to the health of our marine ecosystems and critical to the health of our planet. Therefore, SBNMS has teamed up with CSCR to develop a learning pathway that leads students to recogntion from the Sanctuary as STREAM to Sanctuary Watershed Stewards. Ben joined our workshop to share information with school leaders and students about the importance of the Sanctuary and how to earn the Certificate. The simple question, however-- What do I, or what do students have to do or know to earn the Certificate-- proved to be anything but a question with a simple, straightforward answer (continue below).

Team Scituate's Louisa (student) and Ralph Perrotto (teacher) pushed our thinking about "assessment" to new heights. Louisa helped us unpack the question typically voiced in school, "Do I need to know all of this?" Generally, Louisa pointed out, the question is really a directive from the student to the teacher: please tell me the minimum I need to do or know (because it doesn't make much sense to do more, right?). With respect to the certificate, Ben pointed out there's a PhD's worth of knowledge to learn about the Sanctuary, so there's no Certificate prescription that students master X, Y, or Z about the Sanctuary.

Lightbulbs starting going off in the room. Leah, a student from Team Cohasset, realized "you have to decide" what you need to know about why the Sanctuary is important-- and that's not something you can fake, everyone realized!

So, Ralph offered an analogy. Instead of quantifying what students need to do, might we not think about the Certificate in the same spirit with which the professional pursues his or her craft? The professional scientist, Ralph reminded us, doesn't pursue research to win the Nobel prize. No, the prize is recognition for work well done, work pursued by choice. Likewise, he suggested, let's figure out how to engage students in pursued research, and let the Certificate be presented to those who merit such recognition. That's downright revolutionary!

Imagine such a diploma or degree; pushback would be an understatement!

But, t's not crazy talk to ponder ambiguous requirements, especially when the serious conversation is focused on how might best ignite student interest and passion, and how we might best enable students to thrive in a system where the minimum is not the default maximum.

Finally, Let's Map2See

Yes, this is our TGIS Friday newsletter, so let's contextualize thinking about the STREAM to Sanctuary Certificate with GIS. Let's Map-to-See Stellwagen Bank, Massachusetts Cities and Towns, and Rivers and Streams through a Watershed lens.

Below is an image of a map built with ArcGIS Online illustrating the cities and towns in coastal MA that have the most direct impact on the Stellwagen Bank ecosystem.

GIS has the strange power to simultaneoulsy blur the lines that divide us while sharpening our capacity to clearly see that which unites us. Let's dissolve the cities and towns and replace them rivers and streams. Why? Most pollution begins on land, NOAA tells us, and rivers and streams are the transportation network that carries pollutants to the Sanctuary.

If we take one more step and turn off the rivers and streams data layer in our GIS, we can better see coastal MA as one watershed impacting the Sanctuary's fragile ecosystem. Our GIS shows us it's one large area creating one huge problem. It's not 141 cities and towns that need pursue 141 distinct approaches to reducing non-point source pollution. Rather, GIS helps us see one land mass (2,000 sq mi) impacting one ecosystem.

Seeing this as a whole absent the disruption of political boundaries helps us see, "We're all in this together." And as NOAA says, "There is only one ocean connected to one big watershed."

This is why we are united on the South Shore to engage students in Meaningful Watershed Education Experiences. Please join us. All are welcome, especially the community voices that can help us better educate and activate toward a more sustainable and just future for all.

Get Involved in our Student Research

Ed Reiner, Senior Wetland Scientest at USEPA tells us "Coastal marshes are crucial to the environmental health of the region, filtering nutrients and pollution from the water, protecting communities from rising sea level and harsh storms, supporting breeding grounds for commercially valuable fish, and offering recreational opportunities."

The MA climate Assessment tell us we must protect against Coastal Wetland Degradation. It's a MOST URGENT action item for the Commonwealth.

So get ready for MARSH MADNESS!

CSCR photo, Baily's Creek & Briggs Harbor mashlands


  • April 13 State of the Harbor 

  • May 17 Research Orientation (Repeats May 21) 

  • August 21 Research Wrap (Academic Credentials Day)
Intern Info and Application

Let CSCR Know that You Value our Work.

And don't forget the MA Story Map Competition
Cohasset Center
for Student Coastal Research
40 Parker Ave
Cohasset, Massachusetts 02025
(781) 383-0129
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